Feds to Loan Metro More than a Half Billion for Crenshaw/LAX Transit Line

Public transportation in Los Angeles today received a boost with the news of a large loan from the federal government. Metro will receive more than a half billion in loaned funds for it's nine-mile Crenshaw/LAX light rail line, which will take riders between the Green Line at LAX and the Expo Line, which is currently under construction.

"Today is a very good day," said Senator Barbara Boxer, who made the announcement this afternoon. $546 million dollars from the federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program will be handed over to Metro, which hopes to break ground on the project in the spring.

The $1.4 billion project was originally slated to be built in the 2020s, but the funding means the line could be operational by 2016.

The project is one of twelve in the 30/10 plan, which envisions accelerating the construction and completion of 12 transit lines into 10 years instead of 30 years. Funds are guaranteed through Measure R, the 2008 voter approved half-cent sales tax increase that will be used to pay back the federal government. "This is our first confidence building measure to make 30/10 a reality," said Boxer. "What we want to do is take this as a template and a model."

"Jobs, transportation and infrastructure is an area where we [Democrats and Republicans] can find common ground and address the need for job creation and infrastructure investment by leveraging what cities and counties are willing to do by putting up their own money," said L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who lauded Boxer and her staff for championing 30/10. He said the unexpected money frees up Measure R funds for other projects.

[Added: The project received a $1.45 million grant from the federal government in August for the design of an intermodal transit center at Aviation/Century near LAX. "The Aviation/Century station will be a big one on the Crenshaw/LAX Line. Located at the northeast corner of LAX, the station will be serving both trains on the Crenshaw/LAX Line and also some trains coming up from the Green Line, not to mention the many bus lines serving the area," explained Metro's in-house blog The Source. "LAX officials have also said they plan to build a people mover to connect the airport terminal area to the train station, although those plans are far from finalized."]

An official announcement with more details, such as terms of the loan, will be made next Wednesday at a press conference.